Get a load of these 10 potential Final Fours. Hey, it’s March Madness, anything is possible.
Wonderful World of Color Final Four
Duke Blue Devils
Alabama Crimson Tide
Carolina on My Mind Final Four
NC — Asheville
Top Cat Final Four
Kansas State Wildcats
Been There, Done That Final Four
UNLV (1 championship)
Marquette (1 championship)
Syracuse (1 championship)
Michigan (1 championship
Been There, Done That Redux Final Four
Kentucky (7 championships)
Florida (2 championships)
Cincinnati (2 championships)
North Carolina (5 championships)
Bless Me Father Final Four
Larry Bird Final Four
Lehigh Mountain Hawks
Southern Miss Golden Eagles
What’s That Supposed to Mean Final Four
Saint Louis Billikens
Ohio State Buckeyes
Like Father, Like Son Final Four
Duke — Austin Rivers, Seth Curry
Missouri — Matt and Phil Pressey
Gonzaga — David Stockton
Michigan — Tim Hardaway Jr.
C What I Mean Final Four
1. 1992 — Duke 104, Kentucky 103 (OT) — Playing in a regional final and a chance to go to the Final Four, the Blue Devils and Wildcats scored on the final five possessions of the game, trading the lead each time. Kentucky took a 103-102 lead with 2.9 seconds left on Sean Woods’ crazy, 10-foot bankshot. Then Grant Hill threw the ball three quarters of the way down court to Christian Laettner, above, who turned and hit the winning shot at the buzzer. Laettner finished with 10-for-10 from the field and 10-for-10 at the foul line.
2. 1974 — NC State 103, Maryland 100 (OT) — The top-ranked Wolfpack overcame a 13-point first half deficit and endured in overtime to win the ACC Tournament. Rules at the time allowed only one of the teams to advance to the NCAAs, so the fourth-ranked Terrapins were left on the outside looking in . The game featured five players who received All-American honors in their careers — David Thompson and Tom Burleson of NC State and Tom McMillen, John Lucas and Len Elmore of Maryland — and 11 players drafted by the NBA.
3. 1957 — North Carolina 54, Kansas 53 (3OT) – The unbeaten Tar Heels outlasted Wilt Chamberlain and the Jayhawks in the longest game in NCAA championship game history. Two free throws by Joe Quigg with six seconds left made the difference. UNC also played three overtimes in the semifinals, beating Michigan State.
4. 1974 — Notre Dame 71, UCLA 70 — Notre Dame put together one of the most improbable runs ever, scoring the final 12 points of the game to beat UCLA and end the Bruins 88-game winning streak. Dwight Clay’s jumper from the right corner with 29 seconds left gave the Irish the lead and they survived several UCLA attempts in the final seconds before celebrating, left.
5. 1983 — NC State 54, Houston 52 – The Wolfpack, sixth seeded with 10 losses during the season, won when it mattered most as Lorenzo Charles putback dunk at the final buzzer upset Houston’s heavily favored Phi Slama Jama. Few will ever forget the sight of NC State coach Jim Valvano racing around the court looking for somebody to hug after the final buzzer.
6. 2009 — Syracuse 127, UConn 117 (6OT) — In the Big East Tournament semifinals, the Orange outlasted the Huskies in six overtimes in the longest college basketball game ever played at Madison Square Garden. The contest took nearly four hours to complete and ended at 1:22 am. Syracuse returned later that night to win the Big East Championship against Pittsburgh.
7. 1985 — Villanova 66, Georgetown 64 – In a shocker, the Wildcats shot a tournament record .786 percent. They attempted 10 field goals in the second half and made nine. Georgetown was defending champion and the top seed, but fell short against eighth-seeded Villanova after beating another Big East foe, St. John’s, in the semifinals.
8. 1982 — North Carolina 63, Georgetown 62 — This was Michael Jordan’s coming out party, and the freshman hit the game-winning shot, a 16-foot jumper, below, with 15 seconds left, to give Tar Heel coach Dean Smith his first national championship. “I was all kinds of nervous,” Jordan said, “but I didn’t have time to think about doubts. I had a feeling it was going to go in.”
9. 1969 — Houston 71, UCLA 69 — It was hyped as the “Game of the Century.” A mid-season battle between two unbeaten teams. And it was played in front of 52,693 at the Astrodome, the largest crowd ever to watch a college basketball game at that time. Second-ranked Houston, led by Elvin Hayes, outplayed Lew Alcindor and #1 UCLA, ending the Bruins’ 47-game winning streak. Hayes outscored Alcindor, 39-15
10. 1964 — Michigan 80, Princeton 78 — Princeton’s Bill Bradley scored 41 points to give the Tigers a 12-point lead with less than five minutes to play, when he fouled out in this Holiday Festival game at Madison Square Garden. The top-ranked Wolverines rallied behind Cazzie Russell, who made the winning shot in the waning seconds. Both Bradley and Russell would later play in MSG for the Knicks.
Three Pointers….3 more for the ride
11. 1994 — Kentucky 99, LSU 95 — In the “Mardi Gras Miracle” the Wildcats engineered one of the great comebacks in NCAA history. Trailing by 31 points at halftime, Kentucky outscored LSU 62-27 in the second half for the win.
12. 1999 — USC 85, Oregon 84 – USC’s Adam Spanwich scored six points in the last 2.8 seconds, including a steal and half court heave that beat the buzzer and completed an incredible comeback
13. 1944 — Utah 42, Dartmouth 40 (OT) — Utah originally turned down an invite to the NCAA tournament, but was given a second chance after Arkansas pulled out of the tourney when two players were injured in an automobile accident. The Utes were the youngest NCAA champion in history, averaging 18 1/2 years age.
Throughout history, the NCAA basketball tournament has been dominated by teams from the six major conferences — ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC. In fact, 61 of the 71 total championships — more than 85 percent — have been won from teams from one of these six conferences.
Not surprisingly, the Pac 10 is the overall leader with 15, led by UCLA. The Bruins have won 11 NCAAs overall — 10 under John Wooden, including seven in a row from 1967 through 1973.
The ACC is next with 11 titles, led by five by North Carolina, three from Duke and two from NC State.
The Big East, Big 10 and SEC are even with 10 total titles apiece. Multiple winners are Kentucky (SEC) with seven; Indiana (Big 10) with five, and Michigan State (Big 10), Florida (SEC) and Cincinnati, Louisville and UConn (all Big East) with two apiece.
Kansas has won three of the five Big 12 NCAA championships and Oklahoma State (then Oklahoma A&M) the other two.
CCNY Now in CUNY
The other 10 championships are divided amongst the Mountain West (Wyoming, Utah and UNLV); West Coast (San Francisco twice); and Patriot League (Holy Cross); CUNY (CCNY); Atlantic 10 (LaSalle); Horizon (Loyola of Chicago); and Conference USA (Texas Western, now UTEP).
CCNY, which remains the only team to win both NCAA and NIT championships in the same year, 1950. The Beavers now face the likes of Baruch, Lehman and Hunter in the City University of New York (CUNY) Athletic Conference.
Butler could join the Ramblers of Loyola Chicago as the only Horizon League champions. Loyola Chicago beat two-time champion Cincinnati in overtime to win the crown in 1963.
Duke aims for its fourth championship overall and first since 2001 — all under Mike Krzyzewski. Coach K is looking to tie Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp for second all time behind Wooden with four championships.
Footnote: Of course, many of these conferences did not exist when Oregon won the first NCAA tournament in 1939. The championship tallies above are based on where the schools play today.
As the North Carolina Tar Heels crashed and burned Saturday night, so did my chances of finishing in the money in Comms Before the Storm, that famous NCAA pool. No consolation points for leading going into the final weekend of the tournament.
How could a team as talented as UNC fall behind 40-12 in the first half? That’s incomprehensible. When I was a sophomore at Iona Prep, we once lost a game 112-26 to Rice High School in Harlem. We considered it a moral victory when we lost to Rice 83-33 in our gym later in the season.
But unlike the Tar Heels, those defeats were understandable. The Rice team was far better….they had Dean “The Dream” Meminger, pictured left, a future All-American point guard at Marquette University and number one pick who later played in the NBA for the Knicks and the Hawks.
Al McGuire, his college coach, once said Meminger was ”quicker than 11:15 Mass at a seaside resort.”
Give credit to North Carolina for coming back in the second half and cutting the lead to four at one point. But as Bill Parcells once said, they don’t give medals for trying.
So Comms Before the Storm comes to this — if Memphis wins, the title goes to a guy named Christopher Blogger. If Kansas survives, it might as well be Dorothy.
Well, next exactly. I have the Tar Heels to win it all. I have three of the Final Four. I am leading my NCAA pool after 60 games. But none of that is good enough.
Even if the Tar Heels win the national championship, I’m losing my pool to the winner of the Memphis-UCLA game. If UCLA wins, goes to the finals and loses to UNC, I lose by one point.; If Memphis wins and loses to Carolina, I lose.
Either way I lose. Loser. Sure, I still have a good shot at finishing in the money. But that’s not good enough when winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.
Like I said three weeks ago, toughest pool in America is Comms Before the Storm.
March Madness….survive and advance….laying it all on the line, agonizing over a turnover, exulting after a long three. Sweating it out until the final buzzer.
College basketball players? Heck no, we’re talking about the pool players in NCAA tournament brackets.
It’s all about survive and advance at this point of the year, where one loss can turn those picks into pumpkins.
Quick, pop NCAA quiz. Who are the only two players to have triple doubles in the Final Four? Two very usual suspects. Scroll down for answers below.
CRASH!!!! That’s the sound you heard this weekend, the sound of brackets crashing as Duke and Georgetown were brushed aside. And there was a distinct bracket creak before top-seeded UCLA, one of the tourney’s darlings, got a last second basket to subdue Texas A&M.
Ever play the game knock out? There are several different renditions of this sport, including one where you pick one NFL team to win each week, irregardless of point spread. Once you pick a team, you can’t pick that team again. If your team loses you’re out; if they win you advance to play another week. Winner is the last one left standing. Survive and advance.
That’s what pool play is all about. Give yourself a chance going into next weekend, grab enough points in the early rounds, and hope you’ve picked the winner and that your Final Four can run the table. And even then, that might not be enough to put you in the money, honey.
Just win, baby.
The Sweet 16: Three teams apiece from the Big East (West Virginia, Villanova, and Louisville) and the Pac 10 (UCLA, Stanford and Washington State). Two apiece from the Big 12 (Kansas, Texas) and Big 10 (Michigan State, Wisconsin). Only one from the ACC, although that one is top-rated North Carolina.
Rule change: In the final minute of UConn’s stunning OT loss to San Diego on Friday, the Huskies, trying to catch up, had to commit a succession of fouls just to force San Diego to the free throw line. In effect, because of the team foul rule, UConn was being penalized for avoiding fouls throughout the second half. In this instance, why not give the team committing the deliberate foul the option of sending the other team to the line instead of having to commit a series of fouls. Otherwise, they’re being penalized for not being penalized.
Not to make excuses for UConn, they were listless not only against San Diego but in their brief appearance in the Big East tournament.
Trivia Answer: Oscar Roberston (39 points, 17 rebounds, 10 assists) of Cincinnati against Louisville in 1959 and Magic Johnson (29 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) of Michigan State against Penn in 1979
Is George Mason this year’s George Mason? It was just two years ago that Jim Larranaga’s 12th-seeded Patriots of the Colonial Athletic Association made a run to the Final Four before losing to eventual champ Florida in the national semis.
A nice story, but Cinderellas in the Final Four are about as rare as a snowy day in Miami. Really, outside of the Pac 10, Big 10, Big 12, Big East and SEC — who makes the Final Four?
Marquette (2003) and Louisville (2005) got there, but both were on the verge of leaving Conference USA and joining the Big East.
In 1998, Utah out of the Mountain West Conference lost to Kentucky in the championship game. UMass from the Atlantic 10 advanced to the Final Four in 1996.
But for a real Cinderella, you need to go back-back-back to the Penn Quakers in 1979. That same year, Indiana State and Larry Bird lost to Michigan State and Magic Johnson in the title game.
And for a Cinderella winner how about Texas Western upsetting top-ranked Kentucky in 1966. Don Haskins unheralded Miners knocking off the legendary Adolph Rupp and his top-ranked Wildcats.
Guess I’m just trying to rationalize my picks in this year’s tournament — three 1 seeds (North Carolina, Kansas and UCLA) and a 2 seed (Texas) in the Final Four.
Cinderella, forget about it. I do have a 13 seed (Siena), 12 seed (Western Kentucky), 11 seed (St. Joe’s) and two 10 seeds (Davidson and St. Mary’s) winning in the first round.
And two 6 seeds (USC and Purdue) reaching the Elite Eight. But that’s about it as far as upsets.
The final pick — the North Carolina Tar Heels edge Texas, 83-82, in a thrilling shooting for their fifth national title and second under Roy Williams.
Let the Madness begin.